Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) have introduced S.3964, The Cultivating Opportunity and Response to the Pandemic through Service Act or CORPS Act along with 12 other cosponsors – Senators Graham (R-SC), Cornyn (R-TX), Rubio (R-FL), Cassidy (R-LA), Hyde Smith (R-MS), Collins (R-ME), Reed (D-RI), Booker (D-NJ), Harris (D-CA), Duckworth (D-IL), Baldwin (D-WI) and King (I-ME). The CORPS Act calls for strengthening and expanding AmeriCorps and Senior Corps to help our nation recover from COVID-19.
Some CORPS Act highlights:
- Funds AmeriCorps positions for a three-year response and recovery period and grows the program to the levels authorized in the Serve America Act of 2009 (PL 111-13 or 42 USC 12511).
- Under the CORPS Act, the number of positions could grow from 75,000 to 150,000 in the first year and then steadily to 250,000 by year three.
- Provides flexibilities to stabilize national service programs during the economic crisis and to allow them to grow and respond quickly to dynamic local recovery needs.
- Prioritizes funding for activities directly related to our response and recovery, such as:
- Public health services, including support for isolation and quarantine activities,
- Work that furthers the capacity of state, tribal and local health departments,
- Emergency logistics, such as the setup of alternate care sites,
- Services that support economic opportunity, workforce and reemployment services,
- Work that furthers the capacity of nonprofit and community organizations to respond to the immediate needs of individuals affected by COVID-19,
- Education support (including for adult learners),
- Jobs for youth in conservation, and
- Services to address housing and food insecurity. Prioritizes expanding programs and services in rural and high poverty communities.
- Ensures that individuals’ financial resources do not limit participation by temporarily increasing the AmeriCorps living allowance to 175 percent of the federal poverty line and tying the value of the Segal Education Award to twice the value of the maximum Pell grant, harmonizing the treatment of both with other programs by making them nontaxable.
- Establishes a pilot program allowing State Commissions to directly place AmeriCorps members in state national service programs – with priority given to programs that serve rural and underserved areas – during the COVID-19 response and recovery period.
- Funds new online tools for Senior Corps to safely move to a teleservice model and expands Senior Corps eligibility.
- Encourages participation by members of low-income and underrepresented communities and funds an awareness and outreach campaign on response service opportunities.
Expands the Volunteer Generation Fund.